Sunday, October 10, 2010

110 Years ... and Counting!

This piece from The New York Times Archives was found several months ago while doing research for another project. It puts an interesting spin on education in the South. What do you think?

NOTE: Article re-typed; PDF'd original document will be sent on request.

The New York Times

Education In The South

Problems Discussed at the Hampton Institute Conference


Committee of Forty to be Appointed to Investigate Popular Southern Education

Special to The New York Times

HAMPTON, Va., April 27. – Rarely has an educational conference brought together a stronger or more representative set of men and women than that which gathered at Hampton Institute on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the thirty-second anniversary of the school. The gathering consisted not only of educators from the South and from the North, but also of clergymen, journalists, and many others interested in education from the standpoint of laymen.

There were present J. L. M. Curry of Washington, D.C.; Dr. C. D. McIver, President of the State Normal School at Greensborough, N. C.; Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee, Ala.; Dr. W. E. B. DuBois of Atlanta University, Prof. F. G. Peabody and the Rev. John Graham Brooks of Cambridge, Mass.; Walter H. Page, R. C. Ogden, G. F. Peabody, George McAneny, William Jay Schieffelin, and others of New York; Bishop McVickar of Rhode Island, and President Julius Dreher of Roanoke College, Salem, Va.


The plan of the conference was that of a general, informal discussion of the educational problems of the South with reference to both the whites and the negroes, the chief object being to arouse public interest in the improvement of educational facilities throughout this region. Such points were held in view as how co-operation among schools may be brought about; how public aid of the common school system may be increased; whether the Government may be petitioned for such aid; how best to improve the schools and secure better teachers in the country districts, and whether schools could be combined for the establishment of one excellent, fully equipped school for each race in every county.

The afternoon session was devoted to a general survey of the conditions. Booker T. Washington considered that the States most in need of help are Mississippi and Louisiana, where, in the country districts, he said, the masses have not been touched.

One of the strongest addresses was made by President McIver of Greensborough (N. C.) State Normal School, who spoke in regard to the need of better educational opportunities for white women. He showed how their disbelief in co-education had resulted in depriving this class of people of many advantages, and emphasizd the fact that progress must come through the influence of mothers rather than of fathers, since in educating one woman the State is, in most instances, educating three or four persons in the next generation. Referring to the conditions generally, he said that the people of the South need to learn that there is more money in an idea than in an acre of land; that Massachusetts is more prosperous than North Carolina because in the beginning she went in for ideas, while the Southern State chose acres, and that the great future of the Southern rural country must be developed through educational agencies.

J. L. M. Curry of Washington, who undoubtedly knows more about education in the South than any other one man, and who has been for years Chairman of the Educational Committee of the Slater Fund, gave it as his creed that the paramount question before the people of the United States is the support of the public common schools. He declared no other question is of so much political importance as the providing of education by public revenues, because free Governments cannot exist in perpetuity otherwise than by the enlightenment of the masses who wield the ballot.

The speakers in the evening were the Right Rev. W. N. McVickar, Bishop of Rhode Island; the Rev. J. w. Cooper of New Britain, Conn., and President Dreher of Roanoke College. Prof. James E. Russell, Dean of Teachers College of Columbia University, New York city, made an elaborate comparison between the teaching in our public schools and that which obtains in the schools of Germany, and urged that Americans must adapt themselves in a scientific manner to the educational conditions that confront us, whether in the North or in the South.


A notable address was made by Prof. Samuel Lindsay of the University of Pennsylvania, with reference to the appropriate of public funds. He said, in part: “Our National Government has done considerable by grants of land to certain states and in other ways for the encouragement of various institutions of learning. If, however, we turn to German, we find that she provides twenty-one universities at public expense. It would seem that in this country a public sentiment might be created that would justifya larger sacrifice from the public treasury for academic and manual training. Mr. H. C. Davis of Philadelphia has made a valuable suggestion along this same line, voz.: That in view of the present prospect of a surplus in the National Treasury a demand be made that a sum be set aside for educational purposes, to be distributed among the States in proportion to their illiteracy. For the Southern States this sum should be in proportion to what those States have contributed toward the payment of pensions for Northern soldiers. An investigation has been undertaken to ascertain what this amount would be, but is not yet completed. A little calculation shows, however, how large a claim this Southern country has upon the Treasury of the United States for some help in the matter of education.”

The general sense of the conference was to the effect that not sufficient facts were at hand upon which to base final and definite conclusions. This opinion was expressed by many speakers and was summed up by Walter H. Page, with whose speech the sessions culminated. He said, in part:

“I believe there is no important recent activity in the United States that is so unreported as the work of the people who have been pushing forward the cause of education in the South. Mean and women have been making efforts and accomplishing results of which there should be some complete report. Year after year, I have tried as editor to get a satisfactory record of all this fruitful, energetic, and inspiring labor. Such a record must be not only a report of what the visit to a given community might see, but it should also contain an expression of the spirit of the community.


Mr. Page offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

The gratifying progress of popular education in the Southern States has suggested the value of a clear and comprehensive statement of the actual educational conditions for the benefit of all who are engaged in educational work or are interested in it. Therefore be it resolved: That a committee be appointed at this meeting to select a group of 40 public-sporoted and representative men who shall direct a scientific, first-hand original investigation of popular education in the Southerm States, with the aim of publishing for the information of educators and the public, a report covering the length of school terms, the condition and adequacy of schoolhouses and apparatus, the amount of money expended, and the methods of expenditure, the methods of appointing teachers and Superintendents, and their payment; and to make a comparative statement of school laws.

The committee appointed for selecting the group of investigators consists of Charles D. McIver, Booker T. Washington, Robert C. Ogden, Walter H. Page and the Rev. Dr. Edgar D. Murphy.

The usual commencement exercises took place on Thursday afternoon before a large audience gathers in the gymnasium. The programme consisted of music and literary exercises by the school and the senior class, together with some papers upon mission work in the field by a few of the graduates,

The most significant feature of the occasion was the granting of trade certificates to twenty-five students who have this year completed courses. The trades represented were carpentry, bricklaying, painting, blacksmithing, wheelwrighting, printing, harness and shoe making. This did not represent, however, all the students who have this year finished their trade. The total number was forty, but fifteen were considered ineligible for certificates because of deficiency in academic scholarship. This is the largest number that the school has ever graduated from the industrial department and marks a gratifying result of the work of the Armstrong and Slater Memorial Trade School which was opened here three years ago.

The New York Times

Published: April 28, 1900

Copyright © The New York Times


Anonymous said...

I wonder what Booker T Washington and DuBois would think of Zapora, Jay, and Walker?

Anonymous said...

"There is a growing recognition that the educational service is not necessarily a local one, a state one, or a Federal one. Rather the view is gaining ground that education is vital to each of these areas and therefore that the service should be rendered under the guidance of these three areas. It is not, therefore, a matter of any one controlling the other but a matter of developing an effective cooperative partnership. Schools are not instruments of the local or state governments but the agents of all groups, the community, the state, the nation. The idea of partnership needs to be emphasized considerable more than it has been in most of our thinking about administration." American School Board Journal, Vol. 100, March, 1940 p. 59

Found in the textbook for my Daddy's graduate course on public school administration. He graduated in 1958.